There has been a lot of controversy recently on use of Electronic Voting Machines. There was a whole campaign alleging that Electronic voting machines are not foolproof. But there are many arguments which effectively counter these allegations.
Arguments supporting the non-tamperability of EVMs
- The software (which is fused in a chip) does not use any commercial operating system. It is prepared independently by Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation Of India Limited. Hence, it is not possible to electronically reprogram the EVM. It proves that EVM is cannot be tampered with easily. But a team of researchers demonstrated that if two parts of EVM are replaced then the machine can be tampered with. But this claim of tamperability is farfetched because it takes 5 days to prepare a tampering enabled part and more over to manipulate any machine it has to be captured successfully and consequentially altered.
- There have been strong suspicions that machines are fixed/ manipulated even before they are distributed to various election booths. The Election Commission is taking special care with that regard. At least 10 percent of the machines are randomly selected and tested for their soundness; preferably in presence of members of different political parties to cure all suspicions.
- Some people went far and alleged that the malicious software is fused in the chip itself at the time of manufacture. For alleviating such kinds of doubts the Election Commission could appoint some independent security experts who could fathom the integrity of the software used.
- While the allotment takes place, the machines are thoroughly shuffled and randomized at two stages. First, when machines are being allotted for constituencies, and second, when the machines are allotted for various booths. This curbs any possibility for preferential allotment.
Verifiability of Votes
It is a wrong assertion that EVM does not allow verification of how a voter has voted. It can be done with help of a print out. But such action is undertaken only under court orders. Such kind of verification was actually done in pursuance of Election Petition number 4 of the year 2002 in the state of Kerala.
But still there is scope and the voting process can be improvised. To reaffirm the faith of concerned citizens in Electronic Voting system the election commission must make two provisions:
- Paper trail
- Linking voting with UID
Paper Trail and its procedure
When the voter casts his vote to the desired candidate, he/she must receive a print out of the vote he casted (the concept is very similar to the receipt system in ATMs.) The paper receipt must then be deposited inside a ballot box in the supervision of the poll booth in charge. Later, If there is any discrepancy found in the EVM and elections are disputed then the election officers can hand count the paper Ballots.
It cannot be denied that there are host of issues attached with introduction of paper trail. The printer is a mechanical device which is prone to manipulation/failure. But if this solution is implemented thoughtfully in terms of administration and technicality these issues can be resolved.
Linking Voting with UID
The project of allotting unique identification cards to each resident is underway. It is being undertaken by the Unique Identification Authority of India. Since it uses multi modal Biometric identification, it’s linkage to the election procedure then can be instrumental in eliminating the fraudulent voting.
On this juncture reaffirmation of faith of the citizenry in electronic voting system is important. In a whirl wind of allegations the faith on EVMs was shattered. India is an epitome of development and progress, riddance from electronic voting at such a point is uncalled for. The process can be made more transparent to ease everybody’s suspicions.
We are not protesting against use of computers in banks and the share market in spite of the fact that they are prone to security threats and software generated malfunctions! Then why such a hue and cry is being raised against EVMs?
Picture credit: msnbc.com